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Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Climate protection and the Energiewende are mutually dependent. Both aim to keep the impact of climate change on people, nature and the economy to a sustainable level. According to calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming must be kept to at most 2°C above pre-industrial age temperatures. This means that only a certain amount of greenhouse gases can continue to be emitted. As the atmosphere already contains 65 percent of this amount, major global and national endeavours to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are needed.

Climate targets and progress

Planned and achieved greenhouse gas reductions

Who emits greenhouse gases?

All figures in millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2014

Carbon dioxide, which is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, has the greatest impact on climate change. In Germany, 38 percent of all greenhouse gases are emitted by power plants. Worldwide, this figure is 35 percent. This is why the shift to climate-neutral resources, such as renewables, is a key part of climate protection.
In signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Germany undertook to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2012. Significant progress has been made since then. By 2012, Germany had already achieved a reduction of 24.7 percent. An output of one billion euros by companies in Germany now produces only half the amount of greenhouse gases as it did in 1990.
Germany plans to significantly increase its efforts and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020. Its aim is to reduce emissions by as much as 80 to 95 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2050. These national reduction targets are embedded in European and international climate protection policy. EU heads of state and government have resolved to reduce their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by at least 40 percent by 2030. They have included these targets in the talks on a new global climate agreement.

By how much has Germany reduced its greenhouse gas emissions?

All figures in millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalents

Emissions trading, which caps the total amount of pollutant emissions by all participants in the system, is a key European instrument for combating climate change. All large-scale greenhouse gas emitters must participate in the system, which covers a large part of the CO2 emissions from industry and the energy sector. Companies must hold the right amount of emission allowances for every tonne of greenhouse gas they emit. If they do not have enough allowances, they can either buy more or invest in climate-protection technologies. This prevents CO2 emissions where it is cheapest. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels in all of the sectors in the emissions trading system.
The German Government has adopted the Climate Action Programme 2020 to enable Germany to meet its national reduction targets. This programme includes various measures to improve energy efficiency, boost energy-efficient building improvements, and make transport, industry and agriculture more climate-friendly. The German Government will draw up a National Climate Protection Programme 2050 for reduction targets from 2020.